Risks associated with control

Clearing weeds can carry dangers.

The risks include threats to the health of people, plants, soil and creatures. Poor execution can mean that your hard work is wasted, or not as effective as it could be.


Herbicides are designed to destroy living things and must be treated with caution and respect.

Some are selective, limiting the range of plants that they can effect. Others are non-selective, which are designed to kill most plants.

Dangers include:

  • damaging or killing neighbouring native plants,
  • harming birds, mammals, insects or invertebrates,
  • polluting waterways and the plants and creatures that live in them,
  • poisoning humans.

Be safe with herbicides. Keep within the laws governing their use. For more information, see the Herbicides page on this site.


Clearing steep land can make the soil unstable, and more easily washed away in rain. Staged weed control will reduce large areas of cleared land that increases the erosion risk. Cleared areas should be heavily mulched and sediment control structures may be required to prevent silt washing into water courses. You may need to undertake replacement plantings (ideally with local native species). Refer to the Mountains Landscape page.

Note that removing trees on steep land or within 20 m of a watercourse may require a permit.


Clearing large areas all at once, or clearing down a slope instead of starting from the bottom, can lead to recolonisation of the land with opportunistic weeds. If living on a bush block, you can obtain advice from Council’s Community Weeds Officer.

To ensure the long term effectiveness and sustainability of your work, learn from the Bushcare movement’s experience, either by joining a local Bushcare group or by reading a Bushcare publication.

Loss of Fauna Habitat

Wildlife such as birds, possums, lizards, snakes, and a range of invertebrates can use weeds for nesting, perching, protection or a range of other activities. The loss of fauna habitat due to weed removal can have a detrimental impact on wildlife that rely on weeds for their survival.

It is important to look around before removing or treating even small areas of weeds. Consider what animals may be using the area and what alternatives they have once the weeds start dying. Devise a strategy based on the most appropriate techniques and timing of weed control that will minimise the impact on wildlife habitat.